In case you haven't noticed, there's a huge difference between reading in a digital format and reading in traditional print. You don't read a 5-page feature story in your favorite magazine the same way you read the day's news on the CNN homepage, do you?
Of course not! That five-page feature story is going to hold your attention in a much more in-depth way than your daily skim of the morning's headlines.
When writing for a digital format, you simply can't use the same rules and techniques you use when writing for print. It's extremely important to keep these ten tips in mind:
1. Keep it simple
Digital content is not the same as print content. People encounter and read it differently – they scan it, so you need to write it differently. Divide it into smaller, organized chunks with subheadings.
2. Keep it short
Language is most powerful when used economically, and that’s doubly true online. Write in tabloid-size packages using a maximum of 25 words per sentence, one sentence per paragraph, four to six words per headline.
3. Legibility is key
It’s hard to read off a screen. In fact, it’s 25% slower than print. Help your reader. Don’t go crazy with bolding, italicizing and capitals. Never use underlining to highlight because it will make your text look hyperlinked and confuse your reader.
4. Spelling and grammar
Poor spelling and grammar undermines the credibility of your message. Make sure this is a priority in all your written communication.
5. Get to the point!
6. Write to be found
Keep searchability in mind. What words would people type into Google to find you? Use those words in your copy. Don’t overuse the same phrase to the detriment of your writing or marketing, but be conscious that words in the digital realm are both delivering your intended message and helping new people find your message.
7. Keep accessibility in mind
Don’t let your copy rely heavily on imagery, and use tags and captions as opportunities to fully describe pictures. Remember to describe hyperlinks fully. People who receive your messages are accessing them on all kinds of devices, this helps ensure that your message comes through no matter how and what it is read on.
8. Let your personality shine
Just because you’re writing for digital media doesn’t mean that you have to lose your brand’s personality. There is always a way to infuse even the most restrained copy with personality. Always keep the “brand voice” in mind.
9. Remember no one pays attention to spam
Don’t unintentionally make emails to customers look like spam. This is especially important in subject lines. Avoid words like ‘free’ and ‘win' to ensure your message won't get snatched by a spam filter. Avoid spelling mistakes, text speak abbreviations and acronyms as these are all on the spam filter hit list. Think hard about the words you use and how they’ll look sitting in your customer’s inbox. Would you open an email with your title?
10. Keep an organized structure
When structuring your work, think of an inverted pyramid. The most important information first, the broader base of detail later.
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